Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - March 20, 2016

From: San Francisco , CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Identification, Vines
Title: Identity of fast growing vine in San Francisco
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Really need to know what kind of vine is growing rapidly in the garden. Can't find out in plant identification: started to grow profusely after rainfall. Grows at rate of 6-8" per day (!). Has ivy-like leaves and numerous tendrils. Tiny white clustered blossoms every 12". I have tried to uproot small ones for propagating and it seems to descend into one long taproot. I want to propagate for fences in the area: lake Merced in San Francisco. Please respond when you can. Dan vojir

ANSWER:

This sounds like Marah fabaceus (California manroot).  Here is more information from Santa Barbara City College, Pacific Bulb Society and from the California Native Plant Society.  It does have large fleshy underground roots, some of them shaped vaguely like a human body.

There are several other species of manroot that occur in California, but Marah fabaceus is the most common one and it does occur in the San Francisco area according to the USDA Plants Database.

The other California species are:

Marah horridus (Sierra manroot) occurs east and south of the San Francisco area.  Here are photos and more information from iNaturalist.

Marah macrocarpus (Cucamonga manroot) occurs in Southern California.  Here are photos and more information from Plants for a Future and from FloraFinder.

Marah oreganus (Coastal manroot) occurs in coastal areas from south of San Francisco and into Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.  See the USDA Plants Database distribution map.  Here are photos and more information from NWWildflowers and Washington Native Plant Society. 

Marah watsonii (Taw manroot) occurs north and east of the San Francisco area.  Here are photos from CalPhotos.Berkeley and photos and more information from AnExaminedLife.

 

From the Image Gallery


California manroot
Marah fabaceus

California manroot
Marah fabaceus

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification, possibly Phytolacca americana (American pokeweed)
August 20, 2010 - I have a patch of plants I can't find what they are, could you help? The plant is a tuber (resembles a carrot when it is small), the stalk is red and fibrous, comes back each year bigger, has green ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of dandelion-like weed in Utah
December 16, 2008 - What is the over-sized dandelion looking weed in utah that you can blow the seeds just like a dandelion?
view the full question and answer

Plant identfication
July 27, 2009 - My wife and I have our first summer garden at our new home in the Panhandle of Texas. Included within our crop are several alien large, broad stalk, broad leaved plants with an extremely pungent, offe...
view the full question and answer

Tentative identification of Ibervillea lindheimeri
June 22, 2007 - I live close to the Center and found a plant in the park near my house I'd like identified. It was a vine with bright red fruit on it. The fruit was about the size of a cherry tomato but was oblong...
view the full question and answer

What is the correct genus name for Fringe flower in North Myrtle Beach, SC?
September 14, 2010 - Is it Laura Pedlum or lorapetalum? I saw this shrub last week, and finally found a picture of it. The search engine listed about three different names for it! So what is the correct name, and does i...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.